Sunday, November 1, 2015

Confessions of a rookie FB user

I wanted to be the last person standing on Planet Earth without a Facebook account.
But my email inbox was flooding with enquiries from students, parents and the general public - so I thought, well, an FB page will give me a breezier platform to entertain their queries when I am more relaxed and not on work mode.
So, two months ago I connected with the universal world fraternity on FB.
It has been a great platform for connecting with the people, inspiring them, and understanding their concerns in biotechnology education as well as discussing careers and vocations in the field of biotechnology – as well as to put a human face to my own profession and career.  
A greenhorn at FB skills, I am now learning the maneuvering and machinations of FB technology and am already enjoying the interaction and all the sharing of information and updates.
But there are moments of frustration as well. I get “likes” seconds after posting a video with a footage lasting four minutes.
This simply means that the video is “liked” even before it has been completely viewed – the tendency to “like” anything that is posted without understanding and appreciating the content.
The other frustration is when I get more “likes” for photos than information. Yes, I am not na├»ve. I know there is serious lack of hunger for knowledge out there, especially if it is science-related.
But I am not giving up. I know there are a few science fans who share my posts and send personal messages, appreciating the information.
I am going to keep pushing science/biotechnology to the public domain till it becomes a culture. This is my new “cyber boulevard” and it gives me the opportunity to have my fingers on the pulse of my audience.
And of course, it is important for me as a science communicator to understand what interests my audiences, their concerns and the best tool to reach them.
On a related subject, I was introduced to a techie lecturer in UPM who uses latest IT gadgets and apps to teach microbiology. Look her up on page 11, October issue of The Petri Dish. We need more Dr Wans at universities and schools to inspire our students in science and appreciate science & technology.

By Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan

Farewell to the ‘Missile Man of India’

This is one man I really was hoping I could meet one day in person. The late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is the pride of every Indian.

He was an Indian by citizen, a Tamil by mother tongue, and a Muslim by religion - a perfect amalgam that united India.
I don’t know any other living scientist who is so accomplished in his field while being a poet, philosopher, held the presidency of a country and a mentor and inspiration of every youth in his country.

He is one of the most respected rocket scientists in the world and played a pivotal role in advancing India’s nuclear research and programmes.
The Petri Dish editorial team strongly felt that his story should get a mention in the front page. This is the least we could do as a science newspaper.

Born into a fisherman family in Tamil Nadu, he went on to study aeronautics, earning all his degrees in India but becoming a world class scientist.

He is known for his simple lifestyle and down-to-earth personality. His legacy will stay forever, perhaps just like Mahatma Gandhi.

Using his space technology, Kalam designed prosthesis limb weighing just 400 grams which increased the mobility of  disabled children tremendously. And Kalam was said to have cherished it more than launching rockets.

When he left Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of  Indian President after five glorious years of being the president of India, all he had to vacate was a large collection of books and two bags with his personal belongings. He did not acquire assets during his presidency. All he acquired was the hearts of Indian.

By Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan